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House Honors Rep. John Lewis; CNN: Suspect In Attack On Federal Judge's Family Is Dead; President Trump Says He'll Resume Coronavirus Briefings. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 20, 2020 - 12:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not far from where he honored me, as we remember the life and the legacy of who is known as a gentle, gentle giant, a man whose courage and strength in the face of injustice and violence will forever be remembered, a man whose kindness and humility was apparent to anyone who had the opportunity to meet him.

Our nation has indeed lost a giant. And its times like these that we must be reminded of the shoulders that we stand on, the shoulders of giants like John. I'm better off because of John Lewis. We are all better because of John Lewis. Our nation is so much better because of John Lewis.

So in the days to come, we should all strive to be a little bit more like John, humble, grateful, and thankful for the opportunity to leave this nation in better shape for the next generation.

May God bless John Lewis and bring peace to his family in the days to come. I yell back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker, I ask that all members rise for a moment of silence, in remembrance of the Honorable John Robert Lewis.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The chair ask that those -- all those present in the Chamber, as well as members and staff throughout the Capitol, and all who love John Lewis, wherever you are, rise in a moment of silence in remembrance of the conscience of the Congress, the Honorable John Lewis.

For what purpose does the gentleman from Georgia seek further -- for what purpose does the gentleman from Georgia seek further recognition?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker, I offer a privileged resolution and ask for its immediate consideration.

PELOSI: The clerk will report the resolution.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Passed resolution 1054 resolve that the House has heard with profound sorrow of the death of the Honorable John Lewis.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JOHN KING, CNN HOST: You're listening there to the clerk of the house choking up as she reads the resolution honoring the late John Lewis, civil rights icon, American hero, a legend who past Friday night for more than 30 years, a member of Congress, a moment of silence just before that.

So at the end of that the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, also choking up at the loss of her friend. CNN's Dana Bash and Manu Raju are with us in a conversation, two of our correspondents who encountered John Lewis quite frequently.

Dana, I want to start with you. You see the speaker choking up there, you see the clerk starting to read it and choking up there. That is John Lewis in a way that everybody knew him. He touched everybody. He was unfailingly kind, those words from Vice President Pence and they're good words in a statement yesterday, as he touched people.

And one of the sad parts here, Americans lost a hero and an icon and a mentor and an example who will not get the sendoff he deserves because he died in the middle of a pandemic.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We were still waiting to hear exactly what the plans are. They're going to wait until C.T. Vivian who also died on the same day, another civil rights icon until his funeral passes. But that moment just now, that got me, listening to the clerk who -- anybody who was watched the House floor during battle after battle with, you know, practically food fights flying over her, she stays focused, she stays stoic.


And the fact that she felt the emotion of the moment, says so much about the power and the impact that John Lewis had, not just from the civil rights days that we've talked so much about as the young leader who fought for voting rights. Do you see me there? I was so honored. Really, that was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life and anybody else who did that will tell you walking across that Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, the site of bloody Sunday where he was beaten almost to death. That was just a couple of years ago.

But the idea of what we just saw in the House of Representatives on the floor is also a reminder. And Manu probably does this too. Whenever there was a big debate, whether it was impeachment or another big sort of moral discussion, I would always run to the Chamber if I knew that John Lewis was speaking in order to witness it because I knew it would be powerful and that people would be listening on both sides of the aisle despite the fact that he was a pretty partisan Democrat but he was -- he didn't -- he earned the term Conscious of the House.

KING: And Manu, we throw around sometimes this plot is too much so that when we really need them, maybe they don't care as much meaning with the people listening. You say icon, you say hero, you say special, you say extraordinary. You are renowned yourself for running around those halls and cornering lawmakers and sometimes they don't want to be. My experience is much more limited about it always struck me when you're around Congressman Lewis is sometimes he would seek you out. He would want to say hello, here is a man who changed America with his blood and with his resilience, with his determination but he was just always so kind and gracious.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No question about it. He would come up to you, he would shake your hands, and how are you doing brother. He's not someone who would act like the person like so many of the people around here who carry around with him giant egos, who run to the cameras. That's not what John Lewis did.

He put his head down. He was a workhorse. Often on Capitol Hill, they say they are workhorses and they are show horses. He was not someone who tried to try to seek out recognition for all the things that he has done over his career. People came up to him to thank him for his service, people from both sides of the aisle.

When he -- a lot of freshmen members when they are first sworn into office, Republicans and Democrats, one of the first things they do is to seek out John Lewis. They would thank him for what he's done. That was a very common thing you hear from both sides. And that moment to just now on the floor, this is one of the most bitterly partisan times that all of us have covered in the House in such a -- for a very long time and to see them come together, give a round of applause, that emotional moment of silence.

Republicans and Democrats speak out about the impact that John Lewis had on them and on this country, just shows what a transformative figure he was and how members on both sides recognize the impact that he had regardless of this politics. John?

KING: It's an excellent word, transformative figure, words there. Manu Raju and Dana Bash, appreciate it as we watch this very touching and important moment on the floor of the House.

And as Dana noted the arrangements for the funeral and the like on hold right now because another civil rights icon died on the same day Pastor C.T. Vivian, the Lewis family wants to wait for those arrangements. First, we will keep on top of that and bring it to you. Thank you both for sharing your reporting and insights here.


Up next for us is some breaking news on a story we talked about a little while ago from New Jersey, to search for a gunman who targeted a federal judge's family overnight.


KING: And that breaking news back in New Jersey in the manhunt for the gunman who opened fire on the doorstep of a federal judge overnight. CNN's Brynn Gingras in that neighborhood and has the breaking news for us. Brynn, what do we know?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, we're learning from two law enforcement sources that the suspect has been found dead from what appears to be a self inflicted gunshot wounds.

So you can imagine now investigators are trying to identify this person and work on this person's history, tried to figure out what the link is to this person. And this household here behind me because again, as of now, we don't know why this person may have targeted this particular home, this particular family where a 20-year-old son of a federal judge was killed, her husband seriously wounded.

Again, as I talked to you last before, I told you that we spoke to Judge Esther Salas's, sorry brother, who said that her husband is going through another surgery today after having surgery yesterday. But he is going to be all right. But of course this is a family broken apart. But this is big news that this suspect, again, according to two law enforcement sources, found dead what appears to be a self inflicted gunshot wound.

Well of course stay on this and try to bring you more as soon as we get more details, John?

KING: It's the why part still needs to be investigated, but very important development. Brynn Gingras really appreciate the breaking news for us from New Jersey.


Up next for us, a big gamble by the President, he says he's going to bring back those coronavirus briefings just as the poll show his handling of the coronavirus is why voters are looking to make a change.


KING: In a weekend interview, President Trump giving us misleading facts on the realities of the coronavirus pandemic. For months now, he's let the scientists and other officials be the face of the U.S. response to the virus. But this morning, President says, this is the gamble that that again is going to change that he will be back leading daily coronavirus briefings.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had very successful briefings. I was doing them. And we had a lot of people watching, record numbers watching in the history of cable television, television. There's never been anything like it.

What we're going to do is I'll get involved and we'll start doing briefings whether it's this afternoon or tomorrow probably tomorrow, and I'll do briefings.


KING: CNN political analyst, Laura Barron-Lopez, a national political reporter for POLITICO joins us. Laura, this is to put it mildly a risk for the President given this moment, first some numbers. Do you approve or disapprove the President's handling of the coronavirus as "The Washington Post", "ABC News" poll 38 percent approve, 60 percent disapprove. Do you trust what President Trump says on the coronavirus?

About a third, 35 percent say they trusted a great deal or a good amount. But almost two-thirds of Americans, 63 percent, say not so much or not at all. One of the reasons people don't trust him, Laura, apologies for the long wind up. But remember those briefings they ended back in May after the President suggested using something like this against the coronavirus. Let's listen.


TRUMP: And I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number of the lungs. So it'll be interesting to check that so that you're going to have to use medical doctors. But it sounds, it sounds interesting to me.



KING: It sounded ludicrous at the time. And the question now, Laura Barron-Lopez is, can they get the President to be disciplined? They -- he -- yes, he has a problem on the coronavirus. Yes. There's a potential discipline briefings could help him. But the word discipline in this President are not found in the same sentence very often.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, John. There's no indication even as the briefing stopped and President Trump continued to have interviews or tweet out statements about the virus, he has continued to say that it would -- that the coronavirus would just simply disappear.

And that testing is the reason that the cases are going up. And that if the country tested less that there wouldn't be as many cases. I've spoken to help directors across the country who say that one of the biggest detriments to them being able to get a handle on this virus in counties in Texas and counties in North Carolina is the inconsistent messaging from the Federal Government.

And inconsistent of planning around and messaging around face mask and social distancing and any help from the federal government is really hindering their response efforts right now.

KING: The President also said in that "Fox News" interview that he can't answer the question yet, because it hasn't happened yet as to whether he would respect the results of the election come November. Listen to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this morning on that subject.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Whether he knows it yet or not, he will be leaving. Just because he might not want to move out of the White House doesn't mean we won't have an inauguration ceremony to inaugurate a duly elected President of the United States. But there is a process. It has nothing to do with it the certain occupant of the White House doesn't feel like moving and has to be fumigated out of there.


KING: The speaker of the House, a Democrat, talking about fumigating, the Republican president out of the White House. So we know there's bad blood between these two, but wow.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. It's another example of the point that American politics has reached, which is a very toxic level. Trump in the comments that he made to "Fox" as well as comments he's made repeatedly whether it's about mail-in voting, absentee voting, he has repeatedly tried to discredit the use of mail ballots, which he himself has even used, has voted absentee.

A number of his advisors and people within his administration have used this. But many Democrats see it as an effort to really undermine the coming election.

KING: Laura Barron-Lopez, appreciate the reporting and insights. This is remarkable time. You're right, a remarkable toxic moment in our politics.

Up next, we continue the conversation with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, who has a big investigation of President Trump's eagerness to embrace conspiracy theories.



KING: In a new special report that airs tonight, CNN's Fareed Zakaria explores how conspiracy theories and those who promote them have moved from the fringes to the mainstream with the help of the current resident of the White House.

Remember Alex Jones, he's recently ordered by the FDA to stop selling fake cures for COVID-19. He is a leading conspiracy theorists far right radio host and one of the many people President Trump has embraced.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The half conspiracism move into the White House and then have a President welcome it, amplify it, recognize it utterly unprecedented.

ALEX JONES, RADIO HOST: Donald, thank you for joining us.

TRUMP: Thank you Alex.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS (voice-over): Donald Trump first aligned himself with Jones in 2015.

TRUMP: Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ATLANTIC: Donald Trump basically said to Alex Jones, I love your work. It's totally nuts.

(voice-over): So nuts, it begs the question, how did we get here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you, Alex Jones.

(voice-over): To what some are calling the info wars presidency.

TRUMP: Alex Jones, he was a nice guy actually.

JONES: And I think they're getting our --

(voice-over): You may remember Alex Jones for spreading the most grotesque lie imaginable.

JONES: Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured.

PROFESSOR CAROL ANDERSON, EMORY UNIVERSITY: I have no words for somebody that low and that despicable.


KING: Fareed Zakaria joins us now live. Fareed, it is numbing that we have to have this conversation. It's the President of the United States. And fringe liars. But they have found a comfortable friend in the White House.

ZAKARIA: Yes, that's exactly right. It is the first conspiracy theorist in chief, if you will, the first person at the head of the federal government who believes that there is a conspiracy in the country but also within the federal government that he runs. And this is the most dangerous part.

What he is now promulgating, encouraging, and actively supporting is this movement called QAnon that I also talked about in the documentary, which argues that there is this vast conspiracy out to get Trump and that part of this conspiracy, and this is the part I'm most worried about, John, is that part of that this conspiracy is that he is going to be deprived of his legitimate victory in 2020.

In other words, the most important conspiracy being promulgated now and it is the seeds have already been sown is that if and when Donald Trump loses the presidency, he didn't actually lose it. It was part of a deep state conspiracy. And therefore, that election is a legitimate. He should stay in the White House.

KING: And you mentioned the seeds already planted. You hear the President now mocking mail-in balloting saying, it could be rigged not willing to commit on "Fox News". They would honor the results of the election. And this goes all the way back to his election, where even after he won, he was tweeting, he won the Electoral College in a landslide. That's debatable. But I won the popular vote if you deduct millions of people who voted illegally. He has been at this since day one.

ZAKARIA: And even that one, it shows you how this web of conspiracy theory works because you rightly bring up that, John. Initially, he never said anything like that because it was pretty clear, he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.

Some far right conspiracy theorists decided to propose that idea. And then Trump picked it up and then it turned into a new conspiracy theory. And this is how this kind of thing works. You know, each person eggs the other one.


But here's the terrible part, you have sometimes 30, 40 percent of the American public believing this.